Food is the nucleus of every problem mankind has ever faced and ironically, the solution too. An idea may be the seed of a revolution, but what actually makes it a reality, is food. Actually, the lack of it. That’s what I have learnt from History. When people are made to starve, they revolt. Men work for food. They steal for food. They kill for food. It is a necessity.
And the discussion turned into an argument just because of food. I had no intention of arguing with him. I was too tired to lose my patience. But, he started it. If I lost my temper, it was entirely his fault.
“Are you a vegan?” he asked me. As if the omelet we had eaten a few hours ago was made from eggs that grew on trees!
“No. But, I would prefer potato over chicken any day.”
“Oh, you are a Christian. It just slipped out of my mind. How can you be a vegetarian?”
Now, what is that supposed to mean?
“What about you?” I asked him, resisting the urge to call him a brainless bigot.
“I eat anything that moves.” He told me with a proud smile.
I didn’t mean it, though. When he said that, it was the image of boiled lizards and fried cockroaches, garnished with sliced onions and green chilies that came to my mind.
“I have had peacock meat. And believe me, it’s just yummy.”
I wanted to puke.
“But, isn’t that illegal? Peacocks are endangered.”
“That was a long time back. When I was a child.”
“Oh!” I said.
No wonder, they are endangered!
“So, you have tried everything, I suppose. Fish, prawns, crab, pork, beef…”
“Beef!” he exclaimed, as if I had called him a cannibal. “How can I eat that? How can anyone eat that?”
“You Christians are fond of doing it, just to hurt our religious sentiments.”
I wanted to scream and tell him that I was NOT a Christian. I was an Atheist, who, fortunately or unfortunately, was born of Christian parents. I didn’t. I knew it would never get into his hollow head.
“It is not just Christians.” I replied, trying hard to be calm. “In Kerala, almost everybody eats beef.”
“Really?” he was surprised. From the ‘hurt’ expression in his eyes, I could make out that he wished I would tell him I was just joking.
“How can they do that? Sinful men! How can they kill ‘gaaya mata’? How can they worship her and then kill her just for her meat?”
When are people going to stop discriminating food in the name of non-existent gods? If you are a Hindu, you cannot eat beef. If you belong to any other religion and are pious enough, you shouldn’t be eating the ‘prasad’ offered to Hindu gods (no matter how delicious they may be). If you do, then the all-powerful gentleman up there will punish you, by letting you live your life the way you want and then throwing your soul into the fires of hell after you die. It seems the grand old man who is powerful enough to create a whole universe out of nothing is stupid enough to get offended by what his creation eats. I don’t understand the logic. And hasn’t Jesus himself said, “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” Oh, yeah! I forgot. That’s why they killed him, made him a god and continued the old atrocities in his name.
“Well, you worship women too.” I said, with a sarcastic smile. “You call them ‘devi’, right? How can they worship them and then rape them? And worse, blame them too.”
A long silence followed. He was probably thinking how to justify that. The rapes and the victim blaming.
“We don’t worship all women.” he said, finally, his face glowing in that “Eureka” moment.
“And you don’t worship all cows either.”
He didn’t argue further.
I looked at my watch and got up.
“I have to go.” I told him.
“I really enjoyed talking with you.” he said. Obviously, he didn’t get the sarcasm I had so generously sprinkled over each utterance of mine. “When are we meeting again?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, I’ll be busy tomorrow. How about the day after?”
“It’s Tuesday!” he said, looking at the calendar in his mobile. The idiot needed a calendar to realize that the day that comes after Monday is a Tuesday.
“Yes, it is Tuesday. So?”
“I fast on Tuesdays.” He replied. “For Lord Hanuman.”
“It’s ok.” I tried to find a solution. “I’ll meet you after lunch. That way you can continue with your fast and…”
“No.” he interrupted. “It’s for Lord Hanuman. I should stay away from women.”
“Oh! I see.”
He reminded me of my mother who would fast for God (with a capital G) and ask us not to turn on the TV. She should abstain herself from all worldly things, she used to say. And now, I was talking to a man who wanted to abstain himself from the company of women, because it would pollute his religion. Probably, I should also start fasting. For Marx, Nietzsche and Derrida. That way I can abstain myself from stupid people. Their stupidity pollutes my patience, anyway.